$350,000 Settlement in EEOC Lawsuit Against Giumarra Vineyards, Company Agrees to Training Its Workforce

Monday, July 9, 2012

Question:  Would sexual harassment training have prevented this case?  See our trainings at http://www.hrclassroom.com.

Giumarra Vineyards, one of the largest growers of table grapes in the United States, will settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The company agreed to comprehensive and sweeping changes of company procedures in dealing with discrimination and retaliation, affecting up to 3,000 employees and to expend a total of $350,000 to resolve EEOC’s case.

The settlement resolves a federal lawsuit filed by the EEOC against Giumarra Vineyards in 2010 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Giumarra Vineyards Corporation, et al, Case No. 1:09-cv-02255).  The EEOC alleged that a 17-year-old female migrant worker was sexually harassed and others were subjected to retaliation, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The claimants in the case are Tarascan (otherwise known as P'urhépecha) and Zapotec which are indigenous groups in Mexico, a minority among the farmworker community who worked at Giumarra’s facility in Edison, Calif. 

As part of the widespread preventive measures, Giumarra agreed to devote part of the settlement to train its work force, including hiring a third-party trainer to conduct training on sexual harassment and retaliation for thousands of its migrant farmworkers, other employees and incoming new staff regarding sexual harassment and retaliation in languages that the employees understand.  Management and human resources officials will also be trained annually and receive additional training on how to appropriately handle such complaints.  

Among the other comprehensive changes, Giumarra agreed to implement changes to revamp its anti-discrimination policies and complaint procedures dealing with sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation in the workplace.  The policies and procedures will also be available in languages that the employees understand. Giumarra also agreed to develop a centralized tracking system and to hire a human resources professional to effectively handle complaints of discrimination.  A notice will also be posted throughout the company regarding the resolution.  The EEOC will monitor compliance of the consent decree over the three-year period.

According to its website, Calif.-based Giumarra is a family-run company that employs up to 3,000 people.  Aside from cultivating 25 varieties of table grapes, Giumarra is an international network of fresh produce growers, distributors and marketers, sourcing produce from apples to zucchini internationally. 

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